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9/18/2009
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FCC Chair Preps Net Neutrality Speech

Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is expected to support rules that would prevent carriers from interfering with traffic on their networks.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has prepared a speech to be delivered Monday that will lay out broad rules supporting net neutrality, according to several reports Friday.

Genachowski is expected to throw his support behind the concept that would prevent telecom and cable operators from interfering with the free flow of certain traffic over their networks. While the concept has been fought by major cable and telecom carriers, it has been supported by most public interest groups and by some industry companies, particularly Google.

While few details on Genachowski's proposed net neutrality rules -- to be delivered at a keynote speech scheduled for Monday at the Brookings Institute -- have leaked, the FCC chairman's proposals are expected to be fleshed out later and possibly presented in a more complete form at the FCC's open meeting in October.

At the same time, support for net neutrality rules that would prevent carriers from blocking, slowing or charging extra for traffic on their networks, has been gaining support from influential lawmakers.

Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, this week threw his support behind proposed legislation that would set net neutrality rules in legislative concrete. The legislation is contained in a bill cosponsored by Democratic representatives Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Anna G. Eshoo of California.

During a subcommittee oversight hearing on the Federal Communications Commission, Waxman said: "Industry will benefit from clarity, consistency, and predictability with regard to net neutrality. I think that the time is right to formally establish, through legislation if required, the rules of the road with respect to net neutrality."

A move by Genachowski to support net neutrality wouldn't be entirely unexpected, because in the past he and President Obama have pledged to support the concept. The FCC chairman has close ties to the president going back to their college days at Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

Most net neutrality rules that have been discussed would make it easier for consumers to get movies and large data files online.


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